# Ptolemaic System

Ptolemaic System

= Ptolemaic system =

(Source: [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geocentric_model| Geocentric Model] )

In the Ptolemaic system, each planet is moved by five or more spheres: one sphere is its deferent. The deferent was a circle centered around a point halfway between the equant and the earth. Another sphere is the epicycle which is embedded in the deferent. The planet is embedded in the epicycle sphere. The deferent rotates around the Earth while the epicycle rotates within the deferent, causing the planet to move closer to and farther from Earth at different points in its orbit, and even to slow down, stop, and move backward (in retrograde motion). The epicycles of Venus and Mercury are always centered on a line between Earth and the Sun (Mercury being closer to Earth), which explains why they are always near it in the sky. The Ptolemaic order of spheres from Earth outward is:

#Moon
#Mercury
#Venus
#Sun
#Mars
#Jupiter
#Saturn
#Fixed Stars
#Sphere of Prime MoverThe deferent-and-epicycle model had been used by Greek astronomers for centuries, as had the idea of the eccentric (a deferent which is slightly off-center from the Earth). In the illustration, the center of the deferent is not the Earth but X, making it eccentric (from the Latin "ex-" or "e-" meaning "from," and "centrum" meaning "center"). Unfortunately, the system that was available in Ptolemy's time did not quite match observations, even though it was considerably improved over Aristotle's system. Sometimes the size of a planet's retrograde loop (most notably that of Mars) would be smaller, and sometimes larger. This prompted him to come up with the idea of an equant. The equant was a point near the center of a planet's orbit which, if you were to stand there and watch, the center of the planet's epicycle would always appear to move at the same speed. Therefore, the planet actually moved at different speeds when the epicycle was at different points on its deferent. By using an equant, Ptolemy claimed to keep motion which was uniform and circular, but many people did not like it because they did not think it was true to Plato's dictum of "uniform circular motion." The resultant system which eventually came to be widely accepted in the west was an unwieldy one to modern eyes; each planet required an epicycle revolving on a deferent, offset by an equant which was different for each planet. But it predicted various celestial motions, including the beginnings and ends of retrograde motion, fairly well at the time it was developed.

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

### Look at other dictionaries:

• Ptolemaic system — Ptolemaic Ptol e*ma ic, a. Of or pertaining to Ptolemy, the geographer and astronomer. [1913 Webster] {Ptolemaic system} (Astron.), the system maintained by Ptolemy, who supposed the earth to be fixed in the center of the universe, with the sun… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

• Ptolemaic system — (also Ptolemaic theory) ► NOUN ▪ the formerly held theory that the earth is the stationary centre of the universe …   English terms dictionary

• Ptolemaic system — n. the theory, systematized by Ptolemy, postulating the earth as the center or fixed point of the universe, around which the celestial bodies move …   English World dictionary

• Ptolemaic system — Astron. a system elaborated by Ptolemy and subsequently modified by others, according to which the earth was the fixed center of the universe, with the heavenly bodies moving about it. [1765 75] * * * ▪ astronomy       mathematical model of the… …   Universalium

• Ptolemaic system — Ptolomėjaus sistema statusas T sritis fizika atitikmenys: angl. Ptolemaic system vok. Ptolemäisches System, n rus. система Птоломея, f pranc. système de Ptolémée, m; système ptolémaïque, m …   Fizikos terminų žodynas

• Ptolemaic system — The dominant, geocentric system of astronomy before Copernicus . Ptolemy was an astronomer, mathematician, and geographer who flourished between AD 127 and 148 in Alexandria. His masterpiece is known by its Arabic title of the Almagest, a… …   Philosophy dictionary

• Ptolemaic system — (also Ptolemaic theory) noun Astronomy, historical the theory that the earth is the stationary centre of the universe, with the planets moving in epicyclic orbits within surrounding concentric spheres. Compare with Copernican system …   English new terms dictionary

• Ptolemaic system — /tɒləˈmeɪɪk ˌsɪstəm/ (say toluh mayik .sistuhm) noun a system elaborated by Ptolemy and subsequently modified by others, according to which the earth was the fixed centre of the universe, with the heavenly bodies moving about it. Compare… …

• PTOLEMAIC SYSTEM —    the highly complex system of astronomy ascribed to Claudius Ptolemy, which assumed that the earth was the centre of a sphere which carried the heavenly bodies along in its daily revolution, accounted for the revolutions of the sun and moon by… …   The Nuttall Encyclopaedia

• Ptolemaic system — n. astronomical system of Ptolemy in which the earth is viewed as the center of the universe and is orbited by the sun and planets …   English contemporary dictionary